All month long I’m going to be hosting the posts of other people as part of my 2015 Giftmas Blog Tour. All the guest bloggers are welcome to write about anything they’d like so long as their post touched on a December holiday in some way, no matter how tangentially. The blog tour extends beyond my blog as well, and I will do my best to link to each external post from the here and share them on social media using the hashtag #GiftmasTour.
But wait! There’s more!
We’re also giving away a whole whack of prizes (check out the list here) which you can enter to win using the Rafflecoper code below. Whatever December holiday you celebrate (or don’t) winning a stack of books will make it better!
by J.S. Watts
My first post in this Giftmas Blog Tour took a peek at my personal, real life memories and experiences of Christmas. This second post goes one snow encrusted footstep further and considers how those experiences have infiltrated my writing.
As you may have gathered from my previous post, I like Christmas, but I’m not really an uber-Christmassy sort of person: moderation in all things is my motto. I have fond, rosy-glow firelight and Christmas tree fairy-lights memories of childhood Christmases. I am quite content, however, for those memories to remain in the past and for current-day Christmases to be firmly curtailed by the monthly boundary of December. I inevitably look forward to the peace after the Christmas frenzy. It has come as something of a surprise, therefore, to realise just how often my writing has touched on the subject of Christmas.
In case you don’t know, I write poetry, short stories and novels: much, but not all of them, influenced by speculative fiction themes (SF, fantasy, magic-realism, horror).
If I review my back catalogue of poems, I find just four that deal directly with the subject of Christmas or the mid-Winter Solstice and one of those is more about a werewolf than anything else (it’s in my collection, Cats and Other Myths, should you be interested). The other three take a more traditional view of Christmas, based firmly around those childhood memories of mine. Not so many, you might think, but if I consider all the poems that contain Christmas or Winter Festival imagery, the total rises to over eleven. Still not many, you might reiterate, but compare that to just one poem dealing with Firework Night, two that touch upon Halloween and none in relation to Easter.
When I look at my short stories, the developing Christmas theme becomes even more deep and crisp and even. I have, to date, written three ostensibly Christmas stories: Christmas Traditions (originally published in Ethereal Tales) – a humorous and somewhat ribald take (with added fairies and boggarts) on the possible causes of a number of accepted Christmas traditions; A Christmas Story – For The Children – is a prose poem/flash fiction hybrid, due out from Three Drops From a Cauldron this month, which brings a note of historical horror to the Christmas story; and there is A Christmas Tail – a cat’s eye perspective on a sort of version of A Christmas Carol. Like the original story by Dickens, it is a mixture of dark and light. Once again, three tales may not seem like a big deal to you, but it’s three more than any other annual festival gets in my short story portfolio.
As far as I can recall, Christmas does not get a look-in in my first novel, A Darker Moon. The book is just too dark and mythic (having said that, if anyone who has read it does come across a festive reference I’ve forgotten, feel free to let me know). The timeline of my paranormal novel, Witchlight, however, cuts right across the Christmas period, so there is a whole chapter in the book dedicated to Christmas.
The Christmas that Holly, the novel’s main character, and her nearest and dearest experience is very much based on my contemporary view of Christmas, rather than the shimmering tinsel memories of my childhood. To be direct, it’s not the happiest festive season ever, as the stresses and strains surrounding Holly’s newly discovered and alarmingly developing magic powers begin to take their toll. Work and family commitments conspire to make it a difficult domestic Christmas for Holly in the first place. The fact that the Winter Solstice has special “significance to witchery in general and Old Magic in particular” just serves to create further difficulties for Holly in terms of her fairy godfather and her witch of a mother. The tensions ramped up over the Winter Holiday are going to result in some dramatic and life-changing developments in the New Year.
All in all, it would seem that there’s a fair bit of Christmas sprinkled throughout my writing and the two blog posts I have written for the Giftmas Blog Tour have just added to my Christmas canon. The festive season has clearly been an influence on me. It’s not just the primary coloured and sparkly Christmas of childhood that has left its mark, though. The darker notes of my Christmas experiences also echo in my work, which, I feel, is right and proper. However special Christmas is for you, it’s also a part of real life with its inevitable ups and downs.
I hope your Christmas, Winter Solstice, Saturnalia, Giftmas, Mid-Winter Festival, call-it-what-you-will, when it comes, is mostly ups, but downs have their role to play too, because that’s life.
J.S.Watts is a British writer. Her poetry, short stories and book reviews appear in a wide variety of publications in Britain, Canada, Australia and the States including Acumen, Mslexia and Popshot and have been broadcast on BBC and Independent Radio. J.S. has been Poetry Reviews Editor for Open Wide Magazine and Poetry Editor for Ethereal Tales. Her debut poetry collection, Cats and Other Myths, is published by Lapwing Publications, as is a subsequent, multi-award nominated poetry pamphlet, Songs of Steelyard Sue. Her novels, A Darker Moon – dark literary fiction and Witchlight – paranormal with a touch of romance, are published in the US and UK by Vagabondage Press. She has a new poetry collection, Years Ago You Coloured Me, due out from Lapwing in 2016. For further details see her website: www.jswatts.co.uk
Giftmas 2015 Giveaway: